• The Articles of Confederation

     |  Articles of Confederation

    The Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation Pennsylvanian John Dickinson—who declined to sign the Declaration of Independence because he believed that the states should be organized politically before declaring independence—wrote the first draft of the Articles of Confederation in 1777. Signed into effect that year and ratified in 1781, the Articles provided the structure of government for the states until the Constitution was ratified in 1788. During that period, the Articles' deficiencies became increasingly obvious, and by the time of the Constitutional Convention, few Founders, including Dickinson, defended its continuation. March 1, 1781 To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed ...
  • The Northwest Ordinance

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    The Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787, the Northwest Ordinance set forth a model for the expansion of the American republic. Providing a governing structure for the territory that would later become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it prohibited slavery, protected religious liberty, and encouraged education. Following the adoption of the Constitution, the new Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance again in 1789. July 13, 1787 An Ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio Section 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purpose of temporary government, be one ...
  • The Northwest Ordinance

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    The Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance Congress of the Confederation Passed when only a single state outlawed slavery, the anti-slavery stance of the Northwest Ordinance—barring slavery in the territories, and thus in future states—gave weight to Abraham Lincoln's later argument that the Founders sought to place slavery "in the course of ultimate extinction." July 13, 1787 Article VI ...There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed ...
  • The Constitution of the United States of America

     |  The Apple of Gold/Frame of Silver

    The Constitution of the United States of America The Constitution of the United States of America Fifty-five delegates from twelve states (Rhode Island declined to participate) traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention, which began in May 1787. They quickly scrapped the existing Articles of Confederation, and after four months they concluded their business by adopting a new frame of government. On September 17, thirty-nine delegates signed the Constitution. It was nine months before the requisite nine states ratified the Constitution, putting it into effect. The thirteenth state, Rhode Island, did not ratify it until 1790. Subsequently, it has been amended twenty-seven times. September 17, 1787 Preamble We the People of ...
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